Field of Science


Hubble: Most Detailed View To Date Of The Entire Surface Of Pluto

Just released, these images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope are the most detailed maps of Pluto to date, and won't be surpassed until 2015 when the New Horizons probe is within 6 months of its flyby of the dwarf planet.

By comparing these images with those previously taken by Hubble, astronomers have been able to detect brightness and color changes--a mix of white, dark-orange, and charcoal-black--on Pluto's surface.

Pluto has become significantly redder, while its illuminated northern hemisphere is getting brighter. These changes are most likely consequences of surface ice melting on the sunlit pole and then refreezing on the other pole, as the dwarf planet heads into the next phase of its 248-year-long seasonal cycle. -- Press Release
These images will be used to help further plan which hemisphere the New Horizons probe will gather its most detailed data on during its quick passage by Pluto.

Pluto: 90 Degrees LongitudePluto: 90° Longitude

Pluto: 180 Degrees LongitudePluto: 180° Longitude

Pluto: 270 Degrees LongitudePluto: 270° Longitude

Compass and Scale Image for Pluto

Hubble's Full Photomap of PlutoFull Photomap of Pluto
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Buie (Southwest Research Institute)